Therapy dog Jon remembered with memorial award

Sheena Chappell with road safety ambassador dog Jon.
Sheena Chappell with road safety ambassador dog Jon.

A three-legged springer spaniel famed for his work as a road safety ambassador is to be remembered with a new memorial award in his honour.

Jon, a rescue dog who charmed hundreds of school children over the years, died in January, but now the Jon Chappell Memorial Shield will be used to continue his good work.

Therapy dog Jon.

Therapy dog Jon.

His owner, Sheena Chappell, of Bowden, rescued him at 18 months of age in 2006 shortly after his front offside leg had to be amputated following a road accident.

Combining Jon’s love of children and her former work as a police officer with the Metropolitan Police, she registered Jon as a Pets as Therapy dog in 2012 and over the space of three years visited hundreds of Borders primary children in a bid to teach them about road safety.

Sheena, 65, said: “Jon visited elderly residents in local care homes, but his favourite task was the school and nursery visits for road safety talks as he adored the children.

“Needless to say, I did most of the talking, and he lay there looking cute, which he was very good at. However, the children got the message due to the visible consequence of Jon’s failure to stop, look and listen, and they rarely forgot this after his visit.

Therapy dog Jon.

Therapy dog Jon.

“To this day, children still come up to me in various places and ask about Jon the dog.

Originally, homed with a family in Rutherglen Jon suffered a broken leg after being run over as a puppy. After the repair broke down and vets warned he was likely to lose his leg, his owners opted to put him down.

But the Dog Aid Society of Scotland stepped in to pay for Jon’s operation, future care and rehoming.

Renting a kennel from Arthurshiel Rescue Centre for his post-op care, Sheena, a volunteer there of over 17 years, agreed to foster Jon before falling in love with him after just three days and officially adopting him as her own.

“Sadly, in January this year, due to age-related issues, I had to make the heart breaking decision to put Jon to sleep and I was totally devastated,” Sheena added.

“To help, I decided that I would donate the Jon Chappell Memorial Shield to Scottish Borders Council to be awarded, annually, to one primary school in the Borders.”

While the decision for what exactly the shield will be awarded for has yet to be made, both council officials and Police Scotland have backed the idea of it promoting children’s road safety.

“I hope that by donating the shield I can somehow continue to help keep children in the Borders safe on the roads and that the memory of Jon and his message will stay with the kids through this part of the campaign,” Sheena added.

Something of a celebrity in the Borders, Jon appeared on the news twice as well as starring in a feature in the national Post Office magazine. 
However his life was not all work, and he enjoyed being at home in Bowden where he explored the countryside with his companion Tilly, another rescued springer spaniel.

Sheena added: “Jon was a happy, healthy, loving dog with a superb temperament. He was almost as active as any four-legged springer, in fact when people who did not know us saw him running in long grass or swimming, they were amazed when he emerged with only three legs.

“He never suffered any serious problems as a result of the amputation, he had hydrotherapy, which he absolutely loved, on a weekly basis to check that his spine and joints were not too much out of line due to the way he had to walk.

“Apart from that treatment, he was generally very fit and healthy although we occasionally had a problem with his remaining front leg which took the enormous strain of carrying his weight despite the fact that he was on a fairly strict diet to keep his weight to as low as possible.”